Code of Conduct at events [and 1 more messages]

Ian Jackson ijackson at
Thu Nov 11 16:51:19 UTC 2010

Bill Allombert writes ("Re: Code of Conduct at events [and 1 more messages]"):
> I disagree. If the conference organisers want to wash there hands of
> the problem, a written policy will not prevent it. 

This is a very strange way of looking at things.  You seem to be
positing the conference organisers as some kind of evil people who are
determined to give free reign to thugs and rapists.  I think that's
far from true.

I think rather that the conference organisers were unexpectedly placed
in a stressful situation, for which they were unprepared, had not
previously discussed an approach, regarding which they had not
previously promised made any public statements, and where anything
they did (or failed to do) was sure to be strongly criticised.  In
such a situation it is natural human nature to act tentatively if at
all, and to try to avoid taking responsibility.

There is an obvious way for anyone to improve their response to a
difficult, stressful and controversial situation: to consider and plan
in advance what the considerations and responses should be, and to
publish the results of that planning as a public statement.

As an approach it is widely adopted by all sorts of bodies, in a
formal way.  And as individuals we do the same thing: we tell
ourselves - and we publicly tell our friends - "I could have done that
better; next time I would do XYZ instead".

In other words, I'm trying to help conference organisers do better in
future, rather than trying to create a stick to beat them with.  After
all, _adopting_ a Model Code of Conduct or Model Policy or whatever,
whether in whole or part, is a decision that has to be taken by the
organisers themselves.

This wouldn't be worthwhile if incidents needing attention from the
organisers were vanishingly rare.  However, we have a lot of testimony
from victims that they aren't.  Under the current circumstances such
victims are not going to be encouraged to go to the organisers to ask
for help; they are likely to go and hide with their friends, or
perhaps, if they are feeling particularly strong, to make a public

Personally I think in the current climate public denounciations of
attackers are valuable and I applaud victims who are willing to speak
out.  But those of you who think such public statements are wrong
should see that providing an actually effective route for complaints
will probably make such public statements even rarer than they are


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